Tesco to ban sale of plastic baby wipes in UK first

Tesco will be the first retailer in the UK to stop selling baby wipes that contain plastic as part of the supermarket’s drive to cut down on plastic consumption.

The move, which is a first for UK supermarkets, means that Tesco will no longer buy, sell or produce wet-wipes made from plastic, with some Huggies and Pampers products being dropped from 14 March. The supermarket made its own-brand wipes plastic-free two years ago.

Tesco will continue to stock its own plastic-free wipes as well as those made by eco-friendly brands including Waterwipes and Rascal + Friends.

The supermarket chain is the UK’s largest supplier of baby wipes, selling 75 million packs of wet wipes each year – or 4.8bn individual wipes. This works out as more than 200,000 packs per day.

Baby wipes have become become a target for environmental campaigners as many of them use plastic fibres which do not break down, making them unrecyclable. As the first retailer to ban both plastic bags and microplastics, Tesco has responded to calls to ban the plastic wipes and hopes other retailers will follow suit.

Read more: Tesco drives supply chain to ditch 1.5 billion pieces of plastic

“There is no need for wet wipes to contain plastic, so from now on we will no longer stock them if they do,” said Tesco’s group quality director Sarah Bradbury.

“We have worked hard to remove plastic from our wipes as we know how long they take to break down.”

The supermarket giant said it had been working to reformulate some of its other own-label wipes to remove plastic, including cleaning wipes and moist toilet tissue. It said that the only wipe that still contained plastic – pet cleaning wipes – would also be plastic-free by the end of 2022.

Tesco’s efforts to tackle the impact of plastic waste form a key part of its ‘4Rs’ packaging strategy, which involve removing or reducing plastic waste, while also finding ways to reuse more and recycle.

Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have stated that their own-brand wipes are 100% plastic-free, while Huggies has said it aims to be plastic-free by 2025.

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